The perks of staying at a Walt Disney World-operated hotel just got a little less exclusive.
Starting Jan. 1, guests at select neighboring hotels will be entitled to some of Walt Disney World’s most coveted benefits — including extra time within the parks — without having to book a proper Disney hotel room.
Seven Disney Springs Resort Area hotels will now offer Extra Magic Hours to its guests throughout 2018, allowing additional time inside Walt Disney World’s four theme parks each morning or evening. Extra Magic Hours, which sees lower crowds, makes it significantly easier to board popular attractions like Magic Kingdom’s Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Avatar Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom without needing a coveted FastPass reservation.
Until now, Extra Magic Hours were only allowed to guests of Walt Disney World-operated resorts and the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin hotels. Disney Springs Resort Area’s seven hotels, which include Best Western, Hilton, and Holiday Inn properties, among others, offer room rates significantly lower than some of Walt Disney World’s own resort hotels, making these exclusive perks available at a cheaper price.
Still, that’s not the most significant change on the way. As of Jan. 10, 2018, guests of those select non-Disney hotels will also be able to book FastPasses up to two months in advance, giving them first pick of their skip-the-line selection, according to WDW News Today. The only catch? Bookings must be made as a package through the Walt Disney Travel Company — meaning hotel room and tickets must be purchased together to be eligible for this extended FastPass window.
Extra Magic Hours and 60-day FastPass booking allotments have long been hallmarks of the benefit of booking a room directly with Disney, and have been the justification for paying higher prices for many. These changes will see guests at lower-priced hotels eligible for the exact same park-visiting perks as those paying for Disney’s deluxe hotels like Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
The seven hotels that will have extended hotel privileges throughout 2018 will not have access to all exclusive perks Disney offers its visitors, though. Currently, Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests are given complimentary transportation to and from Orlando International Airport and free MagicBands with in-park charging privileges as well as theme park transportation and parking.
Disney Springs Resort Area hotels set to offer park-going benefits include Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista, Holiday Inn Orlando - Disney Springs, Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista, Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace, DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando, Best Western Lake Buena Vista, and B Resort & Spa. Extra Magic Hour benefits will last from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018 for all guests, while package bookings that offer 60-day FastPass reservation windows will be available beginning in January and currently have no announced end date.